Study Abroad in Costa Rica

Over spring break, two of our Honors students received honors funded travel scholarships to attend Costa Rica. Pre-Nursing students, Hilerie Schatzle and Elise Cartwright traveled to Costa Rica to volunteer at a nursing home. Below are statements from each of these students as well as images from their trip.

“I had a wonderful experience in Costa Rica! The culture is so different there from the United States. Going into this I knew the language barrier was going to be tough, but the people there were so considerate and loved to help me learn their language. I spoke Spanish there where ever I went. My house family only spoke Spanish so I really had to learn while I was living there. Their culture is very conservative so I had to make sure to cover up my body with clothes even in the hot weather.

My group volunteered in a nursing home for a week. It was very sad to see the patients who could not care for themselves. Their nursing homes were very different than ours. They have little medical supplies and staff. There medicine is not locked up, it is out in the open monitored by the charge nurse. I was able to lend a hand by taking vitals, cleaning the patients up, applying lotion to them, folding clothes, feeding those who could not feed themselves, and communicating with them daily. I was able to teach them some English while they helped me practice my Spanish. While I was there I was able to attend a Spanish speaking Catholic mass. It was very similar to the mass in the United States, which was very cool.

Overall, I had an amazing experience while I was there. I was able to meet many new people and learn from their culture. It was truly an experience I will never forget!”

– Hileriee Schatzle

“This year over spring break, myself and three other Ferris State nursing students went to Costa Rica and lived with a host family from March 3rd to March 10th. While we were in Costa Rica we volunteered at a nursing home everyday and were able to practice our Spanish while providing direct patient care. This was one of the best experiences that I have ever had. I learned so much about a different culture. Every morning our host mom would cook us a traditional Costa Rican breakfast and then we would walk to the bus stop and travel to Cartago, the next city over, to volunteer at the nursing home. We volunteered for about six to eight hours everyday and then would come back to our host mom’s house to eat dinner. While volunteering in the nursing home, I gained a lot of clinical experience while seeing how different there health care system is compared to ours. In Costa Rica, the nurses and other staff hardly ever wore gloves and everyting was a lot less sanitary then it is in the United States. On our last day volunteering, we dropped off many boxes of gloves and a ton of toothbrushes for the facility to use. The staff was very excited and grateful that we were able to give them these supplies because they said that they always run out of gloves. All in all, this was truly an experience that I will never forget!”

– Elise Cartwright